The three months of self-imposed inactivity and antisocialness ended April 1. Well, I wasn't *entirely* inert, and I *did* maintain a social life, as much of one as I usually have. However, whenever I found myself thinking "I should do this," or "I ought to go there," I clamped firmly down on the lid and held real still until the urge passed. My pattern has always been to kind of dart around from project to project, creating massively convoluted plans and schemes and setting up impossible deadlines for myself. For the first time since my infancy, I had the opportunity to Do Absolutely Nothing, and I worked real hard at trying to achieve that. To just sit, more often than sitting and thinking.
Thinking was done, however. A lot of things gradually became clearer to me. I have learned quite a bit about myself the past four months, most of it not worth posting here, or none of my blog's business anyway.
I did, however, continue with my researches into what I need to do to move to Paris. I dug deeper into the web, and finally found a couple of people's web sites, or organization's web sites, that had some small amount of actual data - I'm talking money here. How much it would actually cost me to live in Paris. The answers were discouraging. In fact, eventually the "Cost" column passed up my Budget column and the sad, cold fact became clear: I cannot afford to live in Paris for extended periods. It simply cannot be. That dream died.
The first thing I felt was humiliation. I have told EVERYBODY I was going to do this. Everyone was so supportive, and happy for me. Many said they'd come visit me there; many signed up for postcards, lol. I felt like an idiot.
That phase didn't last long. I didn't sign any contracts. I just blew off my big mouth. No harm done, really. And - after examining the budget and stuff further, it appears that I *will* be able to afford trips to Paris. So there is that consolation.
Thing is, I don't need much consolation. Yes this was a huge dream I've had. Yes it was beyond cool and awesome, it was breathtaking and delightful and exciting - and it gave shape to my actions and thoughts and dreams. It got me through the emotionally tough months leading up to my retirement. It got me to reading lots of books, on the history of Paris, the history of science (which I've always loved) and the history of Europe. My view of the world expanded enormously. So that dream had tremendous value to me regardless whether I got to do it or not. I also don't need much consolation because to be brutal, after my husband died, there hasn't been much of anything that could hurt me very much. That loss has put everything else in my life into a different perspective. Not getting to go live in Paris for two, three years, is a survivable disappointment, believe me.
So very quickly I turned to "So what do I do instead?"
Dear Reader, I created a matrix. It measures all possible options and permutations of what I could do (out of all those things I'd *like* to do), includes economics, emotions, hobbies, interests, plusses and minuses. And what fell out at the bottom as the best move for me at this stage of life, is no move at all. Just stay put in this house as long as I can physically do it. It *is* too big for me; the yard *is* bigger than I can comfortably handle. But I CAN do it (by "it" I mean, maintain the house and yard in a responsible manner) if I apply effort to the project.
This frees me up financially - not only do I already have this place paid off, I won't have the expenses involved in moving elsewhere, either within Omaha or elsewhere. It frees me up in other ways, too. I can resume a couple of magazine subscriptions that I like, that I allowed to lapse because I thought I'd be leaving the country in early 2013. A miniscule thing, but a real thing, and akin to that are several memberships locally I've been denying myself for the same reason. The zoo, the historical museum, the nature center, the botanical center, the art gallery, a mystery reading book club at the library, knitting lessons. Because when I realized I wasn't going to live in Paris, the biggest disappointment was that I wouldn't have galleries, museums and libraries to spend my days in for years at a time. Paris is such an incredible repository of art and science, and I was hoping to spend most of my time in those places, drinking it all up. Faced with staying in Omaha, I had to confront my own prejudice and close-mindedness about my home town.
With my sights set on Paris, I was deliberately mentally dissing Omaha. I see that now; and it was deliberate. My apologies, Omaha. Because once I started thinking about it, there were all of the above-listed things that I know and love about this city, and I can do them all. I added up all their annual subscriptions, and they *easily* fit into my budget. And I'm retired now (have I mentioned that yet?) and I can go to any of them, any day. I can just go and look, listen, stroll, I can take pictures, I can practice drawing & painting...
It was at this point that I think I really started coming out of the long, dark tunnel I've been in since Bob died six years ago. The past four months I've felt like I've been slowly emerging from darkness into a place of light and freedom from grief. The timing, right at the start of Spring, probably helped. I've always had mood problems in the winter.
So my motto now is "Bloom where I'm planted."
I'm done being a hermit. I'm ready to live, and to do it, mostly, in Omaha, and I'm glad.